LAKEWOOD RANCH — Kahlee York and Margo Schnapf are two entirely different volleyball players.
York, a sophomore at Lakewood Ranch High, boasts an offensive mindset, using her height and strength to mark shots and control the net. Meanwhile, Schnapf, a sophomore at Pine View School who plays for Riverview High, is a defensive specialist.
On the court, the paths of the two Coastline Volleyball Club players rarely intersect.
But on the sand, it’s an entirely different story. Together, the two have formed the perfect blend of strength and versatility.
The girls, who have played on the same indoor club team for the past two years, only began playing beach volleyball together earlier this summer, after their club coaches put them together. But it’s quickly proven to be a perfect match.
“We have the perfect mix of stuff,” Schnapf says. “Together we have all of the areas that you need to play beach volleyball that we don’t have separately.”
York and Schnapf played in two women’s tournaments and a junior Dig the Beach series tournament, at which they won the 16 Open division. With the win, the two knocked off the first-place team and earned one of three bids to the 2014 Beach High Performance Championships July 16 through July 19, in Hermosa Beach, Calif.
They were in Minnesota with their indoor club team for the 2014 Girls’ Junior National Championships when they learned they had been given the opportunity. It was a welcome surprise for York and Schnapf who both were unable to try out for the High Performance team because they were competing in an indoor volleyball tournament.
“I was so excited,” York says of hearing the news. “We were both so ecstatic.”
“It kind of came out of the blue,” Schnapf says. “I was really excited and happy that the opportunity presented itself.”
York and Schnapf competed in the Girls U17 division, where they went 5-4 to finish 11th out of 43 teams.
In addition to playing against the nation’s top high school beach volleyball players, both York and Schnapf planned to use the opportunity as a means to promote themselves and generate attention from college coaches.
“Normally when we go out and play, it’s (hard) to get consistent competition,” York says. “Coming out here, though, it’s the best of the best, so you constantly have to be on your game because there are no easy teams to play against.”
“I’m looking forward to the opportunity that could come out of this tournament,” Schnapf says. “There (were) a bunch of college scouts and people high up in the volleyball world (there), so hopefully it will help me out in the future. It’s a great way to be seen by a different group of people who didn’t get to see me play in Florida.”
Prior to the start of the tournament, York and Schnapf spent four days training in the deeper California sand.
“It’s a different atmosphere,” Schnapf says. “The game is a lot different. Out here, it’s a lot more strategy and not so much hitting. It’s a lot harder to jump, so your shots have to be a lot more effective.”
The two also had the opportunity to play with York’s cousin, Brandon Dau, and some of his friends, who all play college volleyball.
“When we play in Florida, we play against some college players that come out to our training sessions, but it’s nice to be able to play against (different college players) and see what you get when you play in college and the drills that they do.”
York will return to the sand in the NVL & ROX Beach Series Junior Beach National Championship Global Challenge Aug. 1 through Aug. 3, in Port St. Lucie.
With the beach season winding down, York and Schnapf will now turn their attention back to indoor volleyball as they prepare for their respective high school seasons. But both admit beach volleyball is where their true passion lies.
“I just love being out at the beach,” York says. “You can sit out here all day long and play games. I also enjoy the strategy of the game because you only have to worry about one person and creating a strong bond with her. It’s all finesse play. Just the atmosphere — it’s so much fun.”
“It’s my favorite thing to do,” Schnapf says. “I love it so much. I play every single day. It’s a way for me to work on offense and the different areas of volleyball. I just love the atmosphere.
“Beach is more strategy,” she says. “There are only two players, and you can’t rely on a coach. It’s definitely a tougher mental game.”
Contact Jen Blanco at [email protected].
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